Foster carers in spotlight

Foster carers do so much for the local children and young people they look after. Day in and day out they care for some of the most vulnerable children in Buckinghamshire, getting on with the task at hand and helping to make a real difference to their lives. They were able to take the spotlight as Buckinghamshire County Council hosted its annual Fostering Awards to applaud their efforts and show its appreciation for these carers.

This year’s awards evening took place on Friday 20th July at the Magnolia Park Hotel in Boarstall, Aylesbury.

In addition to certificates awarded to foster carers for long service and training achievements, there were also five other awards for special achievements: Best Newcomer, Outstanding Contribution to Fostering, Children’s Social Worker of the Year, Emergency Placements and Foster Carer of the Year. Nominations for these awards were submitted and the winners were decided by a panel of judges.

This year’s awards went to:

• Best Newcomer – Sue Dick
• Outstanding Contribution to Fostering – Hannah and Martin Ward (pictured)
• Children’s Social Worker of the Year – Emma Cowley
• Emergency Placements – Liz and David Calver
• Foster Carer of the Year – Linda and Ray Barker

Speaking afterwards Hannah and Martin Ward, who have been foster carers for four years, said they were shocked to hear they had won but love fostering for the feeling it gives them of making a difference: ‘We just give these children a normal family life, a routine and structure. We can see the difference it makes to them and our own son is proud of what we do.’

Best Newcomer award winner Sue Dick says her reasons for fostering come from the fact she has always loved children. She said: ‘I find it easy, giving them love and a happy friendly family home. We laugh every day. You don’t have to be a blood relative to be a family and there is a real joy in giving someone a home.’

Speaking after their win in the new category of Emergency Placements, Liz and David Calver explained how they enjoy the challenge of offering a loving and caring home, often at very short notice to a child or sibling group in need. From a quick trip to the supermarket to make sure they have some favourite foods on hand to personalising bedrooms for the new occupants, the pair approach every new placement with energy and care, ensuring they do everything they can to make them feel instantly welcome and at home. Liz explained her reasons for fostering, saying: ‘Out of all the things I’ve done in my life, being a foster carer is the one thing that has made the most difference.’

Warren Whyte, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said: ‘It is great for the county council to celebrate our foster carers and recognise their continued hard work and dedication. We are lucky to have such an amazing team of men and women working alongside us to help care for our looked after children and young people. They may not realise it but we are fantastically proud of them and all that they do. We would like to take this opportunity to personally thank each and every one of them for everything that they do.’

He added: ‘As lucky as we are to have our current team of foster carers, there are still children out there in need of a foster home close to their school and local community and we need more foster carers to look after them.

‘If you have ever considered fostering or know someone who could do it, please get in touch.’

Award winners
Fostering Service Awards:

5 years:
• Amanda Horne
• Karen Kelly & Colin Griffiths
• Tomas & Eliza Pukalski

10 years:
• Vernon & Rebecca Cox
• Judith & John Elliot
• Maggie & Rick Smith

15 years:
• Della Winning

Training Awards:

• Debbie Armstrong, Stacey Atkins, Maggie Barber, Charles Cleverdon, Juliet Cleverdon, Ian Cole, Katie Cole, Joan Collins, Susan Dick, Alex Doig, Sheila Doig, Christine Driscoll, Sarah Emerson, Rosemary Farrar, Shirley George, Anne Groves, Enid Gumbs, Jason Harper, Ann Harrington, Keith Howard, Sally Howard, Alastair Kay, Sheila Kay, Rachel Kirchin, Leeann Mclellan, Leslie Merryweather, Linda Myburgh, Angela Osei-Owusu, Andrea Pendray, Mandy Phillips, Diane Ridgley, Karron Roberts, Sally Slater, Peter Slater, Rachel Stevens, Hayley Weaver-Poole, Simon Weaver Poole, Denis Wilson, Elaine Wootton-Haley, Sarah New, Amanda Mellard.